Pomegranate farmers in the state of Maharashtra are facing a serious crunch due to drought impact on over 50 per cent of the plantation. This was stated by Prabhakar Chandane, president, All India Pomegranate Growers’ Federation.

Exports of the fruit to the European Union (EU) commence from December and continue till March, but according to Chandane, the exports prospect for this year is dim because of the drought. He added, “The Federation was aiming to export about 20,000 tonne of the fruit to Europe and 50,000 tonne to other countries.”

Chandane said, “There is a 30 per cent downfall in the production due to drought in the state, and as the drought progresses, there are chances that growers might not be able to produce enough for both the domestic as well as the international markets.”

Adding to this, quality concern is another key hurdle for the export of fruit. Recently, EU has set a maximum residue level (MRL) for phosphonic acid on pomegranate to 2mg per kg and on grape to 75mg per kg.

Other than the EU, the fruit is also exported to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), other Middle-Eastern countries, China, Russia and Colombo.

Of the 1,80,000 hectare of area under pomegranate cultivation in India, Maharashtra alone has 1,30,000 hectare, with Pune, Solapur, Jalna and portions of Satara and Sangli districts leading in the production of the fruit.

According to Chandane, “Maharashtra grows over two-third of India’s pomegranates, so the impact felt is great, and the federation is calling for grower compensation. The federation has reached out to the Agricultural and Processed Food Export Development Authority (APEDA) for help.”